At the start of the pandemic, Chef Christian Ortiz and Trent Walker began imagining what New York would enjoy, and maybe need, at the end of the pandemic. The goal was to create something fresh, imaginative, new, yet classically New York. Chris and Trent both had a passion for Yucatan ingredients, a shared love of cooking, and were both ready for taking a risk to do something special in New York City. Chris and Trent began experimenting with ideas, concepts, dishes, flavors, and testing things until a crude skeleton of a restaurant concept and menu appeared. In November of 2020, Chris and Trent took the step and bought a restaurant. Chef Ortiz quickly threw himself into refining, developing, and innovating the menu and the experience of YUCO
YUCO, for Yucateco Cocina, is founded on bringing haute cuisine techniques to Yucatan peninsula ingredients and time-honored Yucatan recipes. Chef Christian Ortiz has scoured the Yucatan looking for rare chilies for our Mole de Padre and heirloom corn varieties for our masa. By respecting the cuisine and the heritage of the Yucatan and hope to honor that heritage by bringing something new, additive, and exciting to the tradition of Yucatan cuisine but straying from traditional methods because how can one create the "homecooked" aspect of such a culture not having grown up in it. Chef Christian wanted recreate his interpretation of his findings during his numerous travels to the peninsula.
YUCO has two parts, our main dining area where we encourage diners to enjoy a multi-course experience with a world-class wine program, and a less formal no reservation front bar where innovative cocktails and an extensive Coravin wine program can be combined with an exciting bar menu from Chef Ortiz. Our wine program attempts to be focused while deep, specializing in bringing bottles with age and character to the front at prices that are exceedingly fair. Trent is using his personal cellar, with rarities found over the years, to supplement the wine list, ensuring great wines, properly aged, and at an exceedingly fair price. With the addition of our immensely experienced Lead Sommelier, Derek Engles, we have been able to blend the lines of Old World and New World in our portfolio to create an excitingly accessible array of selections that are sure to make any wine drinking a satisfied one.
Christian Ortiz - Chef & Co-Owner
Christian Ortiz, a native New Yorker, has always had a passion for food and service. As a small child, he would relish in any opportunity to make his friends, family, and guests’ snacks and small bites. Trained at Le Cordon Bleu, he started at the bottom and began working his way up through kitchens in New York to Florida. After a decade of learning the culinary arts as well as the service industry, Chef Ortiz is finally able to showcase his talents and innovative capabilities for the first time. After brainstorming the restaurant concept and testing out some of the base menu ideas with his restaurant partner Trent Walker during the pandemic, Chris dedicated half a year inside of Yuco, before Yuco opened, cooking and experimenting in order to perfect the menu you see before you.
Trent Walker - Owner, Assistant Sommelier
Trent had an early passion for food and wine. He worked in the wine industry in San Francisco while in graduate school at places such as North Berkeley Wines. His 20-year career in finance has allowed him to fulfill a dream to finance a restaurant vision involving the integration of haute cuisine techniques and service with Yucatan peninsula ingredients. Trent has also been collecting wine for two and a half decades and he is excited to bring many of these bottles, including certain unique and hard-to-find rarities, from his personal cellar to share with you. This collection promises to bring affordable wines, properly aged, to your dining experience at Yuco.